1970/89 TECHNIC REPLICA PORSCHE 550 SPYDER
Registration No. JGL 825J
Chassis No. 1112130579
Engine No. AD034565
Engine: flat four, pushrod operated overhead valves, 1585cc, 50bhp at 3900rpm; Gearbox: manual four speed with synchromesh; Suspension: four-wheel independent by wishbones and coil springs to front, de Dion with radius and Panhard rods to rear; Brakes: four-wheel drum. Left hand drive.
Built between 1954 and 1956, the Porsche 550 Spyder was a legendary giant-killing factory team sports racer, often running far more powerful competitors close for outright victory. There were class awards at Le Mans, on the Nurburgring, and incredibly, in 1956 a 550 Spyder won the demanding round-Sicily Targa Florio against far more powerful competitors. As well as the works team cars, 78 of them were produced for sale. A high proportion of these were exported to the USA, many to appear in every type of speed event from circuit races to drag meets in the hands of their enthusiastic owners, often being driven on the road to the venues. One such enthusiast was the moody young James Dean, an icon of disturbed mid-1950s youth, who shot to film stardom in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause and all too soon perished at the wheel of his 1955 550 Spyder.
Ultimately, the ancestor of the 1950s Porsche sports-racers was the VW, which means it is relatively easy for artisan workshops to create limited runs of convincing replicas using parts from older Beetles. This Technic 550 Spyder is one such product, a convincing replica of the James Dean car. Its tubular steel chassis and suspension parts were constructed in the company's Hampshire factory. Engine, transmission and other mechanical components were donated by a circa 1970 VW Beetle of unknown provenance. The company states the glass reinforced plastic shell, 'has all inner skins, panels and bulkheads bonded together while the outer shell is still in the mould.' It is described as, 'designed from the outset for performance', with mid-engined configuration, compact dimensions and aerodynamic body. With the 1600 VW boxer engine in good health, claimed performance figures are: 0-60mph 12secs, top speed 100mph. This example was built for museum display and it is understood the Technic 550's only mileage since its construction has been to position it for publicity and TV shoots. Exterior finish is to museum standard with decoration mimicking that of the deceased star's Porsche.